Airbnb Brooklyn Half Largest Half Marathon in U.S.

Airbnb Brooklyn Half Largest in the U.S.

Runners finish the Airbnb Brooklyn Half at Coney Island. (Courtesy of NYRR)

This was originally published 5/19/2015, but thanks to technical hijinks, I had to restore my site and re-upload a few posts. Apologies to subscribers for finding this in your inbox again!

The 2015 Airbnb Brooklyn Half on Saturday, May 16 was the largest 13.1-mile race in the U.S. and the biggest in the event’s history with 26,482 runners crossing the finish line on the Coney Island Boardwalk. I worked the event for NYRR as a race announcer.

For perspective, the three largest American half-marathons in 2014, per RunningUSA, didn’t break the 26,000 runner mark:

  1. Airbnb Borrklyn Half Largest in U.S.

    Runners on the Coney Island Boardwalk. (Courtesy NYRR)

    NYRR Brooklyn Half: 25,610 finishers

  2. One America 500 Festival Mini-Marathon in Indianapolis: 25,524 finishers
  3. Rock ‘n’ Roll Las Vegas Half Marathon: 25,227 finishers

It’s all part of the distance’s seismic growth. reports that the annual number of half-marathon finishers topped 2 million for the first time in 2014 with 2,046,637 finishers. Just 25 years ago, a mere 303,000 people squeaked across a 13.1-mile finish line in 1990. That same year the Brooklyn Half Marathon had just 1,523 finishers.

Airbnb Brooklyn Half Largest Half Marathon in U.S.

Kids races at the Airbnb Brooklyn Half. (Courtesy NYRR)

Now in its 35th year, the race has a new title—the Airbnb Brooklyn Half—and new accompanying kids races. The NYRR Kids’ Boardwalk Run took children ages 7 to 18 on a one-mile and-and-back run along the Coney Island Boardwalk, starting and finishing at the Airbnb Brooklyn Half finish line.

The 13.1-mile course took participants from the Brooklyn Museum, past Grand Army Plaza, through the borough’s bucolic Prospect Park and to the southern reaches of Brooklyn to finish on the boardwalk at Coney Island, where the after-party at MCU Park, home of the New York Mets’ affiliate Brooklyn Cyclones, bumped until 1 p.m.

Running Inspiration
Airbnb Brooklyn Half Largest in U.S.

Race announcer! (

I kicked off the Airbnb Brooklyn Half as one of the race announcers, and I have to say, it’s really impressive to see how long it takes more than 26,000 runners to clear the start.

The race began beside the Brooklyn Museum at 7:00 a.m. with two waves of runners. The last person started around 8:15 a.m.

But more impressive than the sheer number of people is how excited folks are at the beginning of their 13.1-mile journey. From my perch on the start stage, I saw thousands of waves, whoops, fist-pumps, and smiles. Sure, steely eyed and focused runners could be seen too. But the overwhelming emotion I saw was pure joy and excitement. It got me really excited to toe the line in a race again.

Airbnb Brooklyn Half Largest Half Marathon in the U.S.

Runners round Grand Army Plaza. (Courtesy NYRR)

Since I’ve been working as a race announcer, I’ve been racing less. The last time I pinned on a bib was the Disney Princess Half Marathon in February. March, April, and now, May will tick by without me toeing the line, thanks in part to a stress fracture that forced me to pull out of two events. But if I can’t run, announcing really is the next best thing. And after watching those 26,000 strong start in Brooklyn, I’m more pumped than ever to lace up my shoes, pin on a bib, and cross a starting line!

Airbnb Brooklyn Half 2016?
Airbnb Brooklyn Half Largest Half Marathon in U.S.

The Airbnb Brooklyn Half Pre-Party presented by New Balance. (Courtesy NYRR)

The Brooklyn Half has been one of my favorite events since I first ran it in 2010. I’ve worked the race as a broadcaster with NYRR On The Run in 2013 and 2014, and now as a race announcer in 2015. It just gets better and better every year.

To wit, the three-day Airbnb Brooklyn Half Pre-Party presented by New Balance is part race expo, but mostly party with food, fun, music, and more set against the backdrop of Manhattan skyscrapers viewed from Brooklyn Bridge Park. They even had mini-golf this year.

If you’ve never run this one, put it on your bucket list for 2016!

As I mentioned, I work with NYRR as a race announcer and, previously, host of “On The Run.” But as always, all posts are purely my own. I firmly believe in being honest about my experiences. Seriously. For more information, check out my Disclosure Policy.

Karla Bruning


Karla Bruning is a race announcer at the TCS New York City Marathon + other major events, TV host for the New York City Triathlon + contributor to Shape, Redbook, Runner's World + other publications. She used to report for Newsweek but spent her free time squeezing in workouts. Now it's her job. She's run 8 marathons, 30 halves, 10 triathlons + open water swims. When she's not running, talking about running or writing about running, she's snuggling her baby, spoiling her dog + compulsively traveling.


05 2015

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  1. 1

    What I’ve been wanting to say for the longest time was that I unfortunately couldn’t be there, but Ben was out there running. Brooklyn Half is one of our favorite races.
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